Saturday, December 18, 2010

Three Candy Recipes from King Arthur

Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark

With its delicious white and dark chocolate layers, festive red cranberries, and crunchy pecans, this holiday candy is irresistible — and easy.

Volume

1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted diced pecans
2 2/3 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 2/3 cups chopped white chocolate, melted

Weight

4 ounces dried cranberries
3 ounces toasted diced pecans
16 ounces chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
16 ounces chopped white chocolate, melted

Directions

1) Toss the cranberries and pecans together. Set them aside.
2) Melt the dark chocolate, and spread it into an 8" x 12" oval on parchment paper.
3) Allow the chocolate to set, but not harden completely.
4) Melt the white chocolate and mix it with about 3/4 cup of the cranberries and pecans.
5) Spread this over the dark chocolate.
6) Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.
7) Allow the candy to cool until hardened, then break it into chunks.

Recipe summary
Hands-on time: 10 mins. to 15 mins.
Baking time: Total time: 45 mins. to 1 hrs 15 mins.
Yield: about 2 dozen pieces

Tips from our bakers◦For a tasty peppermint version of this candy, substitute crushed peppermint candies or candy canes for the cranberries.

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Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies

This quick, easy candy combines toasted pecans, caramel, chocolate, and coarse sea salt, for a gourmet touch.

Volume

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
4-ounce block of caramel, cut into 16 pieces; or 16 caramel candies
16 bittersweet chocolate disks (1" to 1 1/2" disks)
a pinch of Fleur de Sel or other sea salt, to garnish each candy

Weight

4 ounces chopped pecans, toasted
4-ounce block of caramel, cut into 16 pieces; or 16 caramel candies
16 bittersweet chocolate disks (1" to 1 1/2" disks)
a pinch of Fleur de Sel or other sea salt, to garnish each candy

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2) Divide the pecans into 16 small piles on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet (approximately 2 teaspoons pecans each).
3) Flatten each caramel cube into the size of a half dollar, and place on the pecans.
4) Heat in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the caramel softens and begins to melt.
5) Remove from the oven, and top each cluster with one disk of chocolate.
6) Once the chocolate has softened, top each candy with a few flakes of Fleur de Sel.
7) Allow the caramel and chocolate to cool and set before removing candies from the pan.
Yield: 16 candies.

Recipe summary
Hands-on time: 15 mins. to 30 mins.
Baking time: 3 mins. to 3 mins.
Total time: 40 mins. to 55 mins.
Yield: 16 candies

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Dark Chocolate Buttercrunch

This recipe requires few ingredients and little effort, but the result is superb, making it appear you slaved over a hot stove all afternoon. What’s more, this candy is so rich that a few pieces go a long way, making it ideal for holiday gift bags. Add it to an assortment of other candies, cookies, or bars, and it’s probably good for 8-10 gifts.

For those of you unfamiliar with buttercrunch, it’s a lot like a Heath Bar. And, like a Heath Bar, it’s delicious crunched up and stirred into ice cream, or mixed into whipped cream and spread between layers of a chocolate cake. Than again, you can just eat it au naturel. "I’m only going to have one piece today. Really! I mean it. Well, maybe just one piece this morning, and one this afternoon, and one after supper…"

Read our blog about this candy, with additional photos, at Bakers' Banter. And if you enjoy this recipe, check out a couple of our other favorite candies: Christmas Delight, and Choco-Mallow.

1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter*
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 cups (8 ounces) diced pecans or slivered almonds, toasted
1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (chocolate chips are an easy solution here; you’ll need about 2 2/3 cups)

*If you use unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

In a large, deep saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, water and corn syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently, over medium heat, until the mixture reaches hard-crack stage (300°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer). The syrup will bubble without seeming to change much for awhile, but be patient; all of a sudden it will darken, and at that point you need to take its temperature and see if it’s ready. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test a dollop in ice water; it should immediately harden to a brittleness sufficient that you’ll be able to snap it in two, without any bending or softness). Pay attention; too long on the heat, and the syrup will burn. And what a waste of good butter and sugar that would be!

While the sugar mixture is gently bubbling, spread half of the nuts, in a fairly closely packed, even single layer, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with half the chocolate. When the syrup is ready, pour it quickly and evenly over the nuts and chocolate. Immediately top with the remaining chocolate, then the remaining nuts. Wait several minutes, then gently, using the back of a spatula, press down on the chocolate-nut layer to spread the chocolate around evenly.

While the candy is still slightly warm, use a spatula to loosen it from the baking sheet. When cool, break it into uneven chunks.

Yield: about 24 big bite-sized pieces, if you want to be scientific about it.

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